The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed in a press release Wednesday that a second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, who provided care for Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan, has tested positive for the disease
The health care worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated, health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said. Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored. The type of monitoring depends on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus.
The preliminary Ebola test was run late Tuesday at the state public health laboratory in Austin, and results were received at about midnight. Confirmatory testing on a separate specimen will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
The revealing of this new Ebola case validates Tuesday’s complaints made by nurses and union officials. A Nurses’ union slammed the Dallas hospital for lack of Ebola protocol where an Ebola patient died and where a nurse was sickened, saying that protocols to protect workers were not in place. National Nurses United, in a conference call with reporters Tuesday, said that several nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian complained of confusion in the days after an Ebola patient was diagnosed there, putting nurses at risk, and that there was little training.
“There was no advance preparedness on what to do with the patient, there was no protocol, there was no system,” the group said in a statement. Their allegations include: Duncan wasn’t immediately isolated, nurses’ protective gear left their necks exposed, piled up hazardous waste, no “hands-on” training and nurses “feel unsupported.”
The World Health Organization predicted Tuesday that the deadly virus could lead to 5,000 to 10,000 new cases a week in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the hardest-hit countries.
The WHO’s assistant director-general, Bruce Aylward, said at a Geneva news conference that some areas were seeing a slowing of new cases, which epidemiologists think is a result of greater awareness and a stepped-up response. But about 70% of those who fall ill in the three countries are dying, he said. He cautioned against assuming the outbreak had slowed.
“Quite frankly, it’s too early to say,” he said, adding that numbers can fluctuate because of lags in reporting and high caseloads. “People may draw the wrong conclusion that this is coming under control.”